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Japanese peacekeepers arrive in South Sudan capital

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November 21, 2016 (JUBA) – A contingent of Japanese peacekeepers have arrived in the South Sudan’s capital, Juba.

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UN peacekeepers in South Sudan with one of their helicopters (UNMISS)

Japan’s ambassador Masahiko Kiya received the 350 Self-Defense Forces that will replace the previous contingent of its peacekeepers who served in the United Nations Mission in South Sudan, but lacked mandate to use force.

The new troops, officials said, will be tasked with engineering and construction work in the South Sudan capital.

These peacekeepers will have the ability to use force to protect civilians, United Nations staff and themselves.

Japan’s constitution, drafted under U.S. direction after the war, forbids the use of force in settling international disputes, but the government has reinterpreted the constitution to allow Japanese troops to use force in some situations.

Japan’s Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe was quoted saying the broader military powers give Japan ability to respond to growing threats that include China’s growing military assertiveness and North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.

Japan has dispatched troops to South Sudan since 2011, but their operation has been limited to construction projects in non-combative areas.

Currently, there are more than 12,000 UN peacekeepers in South Sudan, who have often been criticized for failing to protect civilians.

(ST)

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